What a better way to start off the school year than with a freezing race through the Maryville College woods? While there are far warmer and more comfortable ways to spend a Sunday afternoon, several Maryville College students and faculty choose to brave the cold and lace up their running shoes.
On Sunday, Jan. 14 the Knoxville Track Club hosted their kickoff for their Trail Racing Series in the Maryville College woods. Brisk temperatures of less than 30 degrees with an even colder wind chill threatened low entry numbers, but the Wanderer’s Trail Race still had a good turnout of 193 runners.
Winding around the school’s trails and fields, the 5k consisted of frozen patches of mud, iced-over bridges and plenty of runny noses as the runners made their way from start to finish.
Erin Dupes, a senior cross country runner, has run this race for the past three years.
“Not everyone knows this race is such a convenient and great opportunity,” said Dupes. “It’s free for all students and faculty, and the entry comes with a t-shirt!”
Several students, staff and alumni were at the race, decked out in multiple warm layers but smiling and happy to be there. Small private running groups, including a youth running team were also at the race, some running to win and others just running to finish.
The Knoxville Track Club is great about fostering a love for running in both experienced trail buffs and new runners. The Trail Racing Series is a yearlong schedule of trail races across the southeast, ranging from small 5k’s to marathons. Maryville College has been fortunate enough to host the Wanderer’s 5k for several years now, bringing in new and old faces each time.
The bitter cold can make a race harder than it needs to be, but sometimes the thrill of running in the January countryside gives this race its charm.
“Honestly it’s almost always cold, but that’s what makes it fun,” said Dupes, clutching a cup of warm, race-side hot chocolate. “I remember last year, everyone was out here in shorts, and it was almost warm. But in 2016 I wore shorts, and it was even colder than it was today. Everyone thought I was crazy, but it was still one of my favorites races ever!”
The Wanderer’s 5k is a small tradition held in the College Woods that not many students and faculty take advantage of. So, if you have a bit of an adventurer in you, next year come out and run the Wanderer’s Trail Race if you wish to start out your new year doing something crazy, something fun and something very, very cold.